Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
A Monumental Biography
on March 6, 2017
The authors of Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith, set out to write the most complete life of Vincent Van Gogh as possible, and they have admirably succeeded. This is not a book for everyone. The detail will put off many people interested in Van Gogh but anyone who want the full picture will find the detail rewarding. This is not to say I did not skim through several pages. For me, the most interesting part of the biography is the years Van Gogh spent in France. The book was a profound experience as I got to know Van Gogh much more than through exhibition catalogues and shorter biographies that were not prone to analysis. For those readers, myself included, who knew the Time-Life and Hollywood version of Vincent Van Gogh, this biography opens up the subject as never before and one may not enjoy discovering the flesh and blood Vincent with all of his failings and strange personality.
The authors have had access to far more information and were given access to a huge amount of archival material from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. They also benefited from a new, six-volume edition of Van Gogh’s letters. The result is a very readable and full portrait of Vincent Van Gogh and his family. The complexity of Vincent’s sometimes strained relations with his brother Theo are well detailed as well as Vincent’s inner life, his desperate hopes for an artist’s colony and his manic attacks. The descriptions of many of Vincent’s paintings provide wonderful insights and are beautifully written. Vincent Van Gogh. If you have an interest in exploring Vincent Van Gogh’s life in depth, this biography is all that you need.